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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  September 3, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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>> tonight o >> tonight on the eve of the convention democrats stumble. >> can you honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago? >> no, but that's not the question of this election. >> that sent the republicans on the offensive. >> the president can say a lot of things-- and he will. but he can't tell you that you're better off. >> reports from nancy cordes and na schieffer. on the gulf coast, homeowners see the devastation left by isaac. manuel bojorquez is there. bill whitaker is in california where new wildfires are burning out of control. and on this labor day, sharyl ontkisson meets some people atying to survive as the jobs vanish. >> yeah, i'm going to try to work. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley.
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>> axelrod: good evening, scott's off tonight, i'm jim axelrod. it's a question a president is asked every time he runs for reelection: are you better off now than you were four years ago, a question president obama's team should have seen coming but didn't. today as democrats gathered in charlotte for their convention, sh the campaign faces the distraction of trying to set the record straight. nancy cordes is traveling with the president tonight as he surveys the damage from hurricane isaac. good evening, nancy. >> reporter: jim, this is a quick trip for the president, less than three hours. he is touring a damaged neighborhood, meeting with state officials, officials, like governor bobby jindall then it's back to the campaign where the two sides are locked in this vicious debate over whether the economy is on the monday. speaking in toledo, the president told a crowd of autoworkers they were better off thanks to his auto bailout. >> i stood with american workers i stood with american manufacturering, i believed in you i bet on you, i'll make that bet any day of the week.
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bd because of that bet, three years later that bet has paid if for america! >> reporter: his campaign is doing damage control today after the way some of his top aides and supporters answered a crucial question this weekend: are americans better off than they were four years ago. this answer from maryland's democratic governor martin o'malley on cbs' "face the nation" got the most attention >> can you honestly say people are better off today than they were four years somethat that >> no, but that's not the question of this election. >> reporter: the romney campaign pounced, calling o'malley's comments "proof that president obama's policies aren't working." by today, democrats were reading from a different script. here was los angeles mayor antonio villaraigosa on cbs "this morning". >> the answer is we are better off. >> but the romney campaign hit democrats for that, too, saying eney weren't facing reality. vice presidential nominee paul ryan was in north carolina. >> the president can say a lot c things-- and he will-- but he can't tell you that you're
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t hter off. simply put: the jimmy carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now. (laughter) he reporter: vice president biden arrived in detroit armed with this answer. >> you want to know whether we're better off? i've got a little bumper sticker ffr you. "osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive!" >> reporter: by some measures, americans are better off today. home prices are up and jobs are being created. however, median income, jim, is down since the president took office and unemployment is higher than when he came to office. it's now 8.3%. >> axelrod: bob schieffer is our chief washington correspondent and the anchor of "face the nation." e thoins us from the time warner cable arena in charlotte. bob, what do you think we'll hear from the democrats starting tomorrow night? ta you know, jim, in 1996 bob dole, who was a world war ii wro, said that he wanted to be a link to the greatest generation, the people of that
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era and return america to their values. bill clinton came along and said etell, that's really nice but sai i want to do is be a bridge ce the future." aat's what you're going to hear a lot of at this convention, the word "forward." the president is going to argue that he's the person to take the country forward. the other guys will take it backward. now, the job he's going to have here is defending this economy. he will say "our policies will finally get us back on track. the other guy's policies will make it worse." ot axelrod: let me ask you about wigallup poll out today that asked americans the likelihood of voting for governor romney since the g.o.p. convention. th% are more likely to vote for % m but 38% are less likely, which doesn't seem like much of a bump. are you surprised? >> it's not much of a bump and ?'ll tell you something, i was a little surprised at that. but it looks like when you look at that poll that the whole thing was simply a wash. >> axelrod: bob schieffer in
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charlotte, north carolina, thank you. along with the president, enspectors from the federal emergency management agent i have on the gulf coast tonight. they're assessing the damage from hurricane isaac, which could top $2 b. more than 125,000 homes and businesses are still without power. this picture caught our attention. it's from ironton, louisiana, an injured horse struggled to get out of the mud before help arrived. manuel bojorquez is there to see its devastating impact. >> reporter: six days after making landfall, isaac is the uninvited guest who won't leave. w plaquemines parish the flood devastated lives and livestock. 62-year-old carolyn sylve and her daughter had to take a canoe to see what they could salvage. >> this is our land, you know?
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you want to you want to be home but you can't. >> reporter: while the reinforced $14 billion levee system kept new orleans dry, the complaint here is it pushed more water into the smaller, poorer towns. >> people are >> people are not rich here we are poor, we're not rich. things need to change. >> we're getting ready to get washed away here. >> reporter: isaac walloped plaquemines parish. this video captures a torrent unleashed by the storm. ten feet of water submerged entire neighborhoods. in st. john's parish 30 miles west of new orleans calvin and constance woods saw their home had taken in five feet of water. it may not look like much damage ikt the floors are soaked. even the doors are swollen shut. the woods lost their previous home to katrina. they waited to see their home for a reason. you decided to go to your sunday
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service? >> yes, it was more important. i needed that; they needed that. i reporter: calvin woods is edstor of liberty baptist church in the ninth ward where sunday's service went on without electricity. constance woods needed this, too. >> people were saying oh, we're praying for you and stuff like ehat. so i had been weeping the whole service. >> reporter: the woods say this tme they will rebuild. >> we can rebuild, we can redo it and make a difference. >> reporter: jim, the army corps of engineers says it will look into whether the levee system-- which protected new orleans-- pushed water into outlying communities. >> axelrod: manuel bojorquez in louisiana, thank you. in the west, a fast-moving fire is eating up part of the angeles national forest in california. it's burned through six square
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miles so far. bill whittaker shows us why this rsre is so hard to fight. >> reporter: the fire keeps extending its grip, long fingers of flames stretched up mountain sides, blazing paths deep into ehe angeles national forest. the pushback by firefighters was yust as aggressive. >> we haven't got a lot of rain essi last winter and everything's really dry out here. >> reporter: 500 firefighters lly battling the blaze, the heat and the steep terrain, trying to contain the fire and you have? snuff it out. they're encircling it on the ground and hitting it hard from the air. this big d.c.-10 dropped 10,000 gallons of retardant each pass. >> access is our biggest challenge right now. >> the steep, rugged terrain we have out here is hard for our firefighters to get into. you have a slow bend of anywhere to 40 to 90 degrees in angle. folks standing on the side of the hill, it's here is dropdown, it's pretty hard.
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>> reporter: firefighters don't yet know what ignited the fire but once it started sunday afternoon it spread rapidly, captured in this time lapse video. it forced the evacuation of a trailer park and resorts. >> we woke up and saw the fire on the ridge, we had to leave. >> reporter: the conditions are .erfect for this fire to spread. the vegetation is bone dry, providing plenty of fuel and the wind is expected to pick up again this evening. jim, right now this fire is moving away from residential areas, but three years ago the reation fire in this very same forest burned 250 square miles sqd 89 homes so no one will rest easy until this fire is out. >> axelrod: bill whitaker, thank ou. turning overseas now, there's been a huge spike in the you. violence in syria's civil war. human rights groups say at least 5,000 people were killed in august, the most in any one month. september is also off to a violent start. there's new fighting in the biggest cities, damascus and aleppo. today syria's government said
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there will be no talks with the opposition until there is more stability throughout the country. the assad regime rarely allows foreign journalists into syria. clarissa ward is just over the oorder in turkey. good evening, clarissa. the fight in and around aleppo continued today. government forces with more air strikes. irat can you tell us about that? >> that's right, jim. activists are saying that as many as 25 people were killed, including women and children, during an air strike that took place in the city of al bab in aleppo province. al bab has been under rebel control for the last couple months but in recent weeks the government has really been hammering that city with ittillery and air strikes and we're seeing now more and more of the regime destroying its air assets, using helicopter gunships and fighter jets. the rebels have been telling us as far back as february that this was their greatest fear: imet the regime would use air
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assets and they wouldn't be able to defend themselves. >> axelrod: a little later this week the new u.n. special envoy set to make his first trip to syria. his predecessor, kofi annan, could not broker peace agreement. what can mr. brahimi do that kofi annan couldn't? >> well, it's interesting, ntviously his expectations are fairly measured. ured.nt so far as to call his enw role "mission: nearly impossible." he compared it to standing in ndont of a brick wall and essentially looking for some cracks in the wall. acks il be flying to damascus on saturday and meeting with president assad. d. has said that it is way too early at this stage to discuss what role, if any, president assad may have in the future of syria, but he has said quite adamantly that he opposes any foreign military intervention in yria. >> axelrod: clarissa ward just over the syrian border in turkey for us tonight. thank you. in northwestern pakistan there eys a brazen attack today aimed thwestricans. a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into an
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ammev. carrying u.s. government workers. at least two pakistanis were oilled, 19 people were hurt, including two americans. their injuries are not life r injuriesg. an army of volunteers could swing the presidential election. hearks scared away the swimmers on labor day weekend. weames shot sky high and a hotel was wiped out when the "cbs evening news" continues. out when the "cbs evening news" continues. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ there's y to help erase litter box odor.@s purina tidy cats. only tidy cats has odor erasers. making it easy to keep things at home... just the way you want them. tidy cats with odor erasers. those surprising little still make you take notice.
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>> axelro >> axelrod: it's no coincidence that democrats are holding their lrod: tion this week in charlotte, north carolina is among a handful of battleground states expected to decide the grection. oth campaigns are relying thavily on their ground game. an army of volunteers deployed to get out the vote. byron pitts spent time with some of the foot soldiers. >> all right, ready? >> reporter: 39-year-old mary parry is a stay at home mom in chapel hill with a husband, mome kids, and a growing passion for politics. >> this is mary parry with the obama campaign. >> reporter: she volunteers 30 hours a week. her goal: reelect president obama. tou have a full life outside of volunteering for president obama. denthy do it? >> i feel like we've come along way since 2008 when president obama took office and it's just important for my future, for my futu' future for me to say, well ,'m too busy. >> reporter: in 2008, obama's slim victory in north carolina was built on an army of volunteers. >> thank you guys for coming
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out. >> reporter: parry was one of 7,000 volunteers and paid staff across the state who knocked on doors and made phone calls. compare 2008 to 2012. is it easier or harder to sell president obama. >> i would say asking for volunteers is even easier. >> reporter: easier? >> i would say. my experience. >> reporter: because? >> i think we had a lot of new people in 2008, like myself, who had never been involved with a campaign before. pe >> reporter: since then you have infrastructure? >> now we know what we're doing. >> reporter: the obama campaign ou htegy in north carolina will rely on turning out the youth vote, registering more african american voters and energizing women. >> when women go to the voting ooth they're thinking about their rights and wanting... women would want ownership of their own bodies and health care decisions so we don't want men making those decisions for us in washington. >> i'm a volunteer for the mitt romney campaign. >> reporter: 46-year-old chuck painter is a registered independent serving as a romney -olunteer in cornelius, north carolina. or 2009, painter lost his job as
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carolesman for a plastics company, a job he had for 20 years. >> i had my home repossessed through foreclosure, i couldn't heford to make the payments and i was homeless, actually, during my birthday in may because i was my in between, did not have a place to stay, couldn't afford anything. >> reporter: four years ago, candidate obama won 54% of north carolina voters who said they were concerned about the aionomy. on election day, unemployment tas inching toward 8%. waw in the state of north carolina it's 9.6%. . am struck by how difficult these few years have been for you. i can tell that still gets to been >> yes, it's very hard to talk about because it's... i really haven't shared it with a lot of people because it's embarrassing. i never thought i would be in this situation as an american. ouldeporter: a key part of the amney campaign strategy in
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north carolina, tapping into voter dissatisfaction with the dinomic recovery, reenergizing the conservative base and onomicg a majority of independents like chuck. so you hold president obama responsible? >> yes, i do hold him t obamaible. i don't feel like i would have lost my career and so many others would be struggling, if they would have made different decisions and if my country was in a better state. >> reporter: president clinton sill speak directly to independent voters like chuck when he address it is convention here on wednesday. byron pitts, cbs news, charlotte. >> axelrod: well, it was no day at the beach. why many cape cod swimmers stayed on shore this holiday weekend. that's ahead. this holiday weekend. and i honestly didn't think i would ever quit. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. it put me at ease that you could smoke on the first week. [ male announcer ] some people had changes in behavior,
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>> axelro >> axelrod: a shark scare kept swimmers out of the waters off cape cod this weekend. two sharks estimated at 14 and 16 feet long were spotted thursday. one got within 30 feet of the beach. there have been a series of wiark sightings off cape cod in recent weeks. this great white was found washed ashore near the rhode landnd border on saturday. .n portland, oregon, investigators spent today trying to determine what caused a vacant hotel to go up in flames. the fire spread quickly through the building along the columbia river. the owners were using it for r.orage. the fire caused more than $5 million in damage but no one was hurt. margaret thatcher made an impact
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on world politics and, would you believe, the world of fashion? he saw a proof of that in london today as seven suits worn by the former british prime minister sold at auction. one of them sold for more than $39,000-- more than ten times the expected price. the actor michael clarke duncan was hard to miss. his big size and booming voice ndrned him roles on the big screen including that of a gifted convict in "the green mile." he earned an oscar nomination for that role in 2000. duncan suffered a heart attack in july and died in los angeles today. he was 54. a family of steel workers wonders if it will be the last generation to work at the mill. that's next. that's next. ove they give you predictable overnight relief to help get you feeling like yourself again in the morning. dulcolax laxative tablets. keep you moving. ♪ feeling free. ♪
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but after 36 years at sparrows point, there is still in his blood. >> you have a family history? >> my great great grandfather actually started down there in the 1900's. my grandfather, after that, my father, myself, and then my daughter is after me. she would be the fifth generation. >> built 125 years ago it was once the largest mill producing steel for the golden gate bridge in both world wars. in its heyday, america's steel industry posted 600,000 workers and today is down to 87,000. sparrows point has come to exemplify the struggles of the industry with a chain of owners and layoffs, there was once 35,000 employes and its dwindled to 2000. two months ago they got the news that the plant was closing. >> i was speechless, i do not know what to say. all these young people with kids and homes, and cars, when
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the going to do? were going to go? what are going to do? >> there has been a ripple effect in the community and just down the road this family business started in the 1930's and thanks to the steel workers, became a bustling car wash, convenience store, and bar. now it is one of seven. businesses with an uncertain future. >> the plant closing down has meant what to your business? it >> a dramatic decrease, definitely making us rethink the way we do things. >> there's a saying in the business that the finest steel has to go through the hottest fire. he is determined to make a new life, hunting for a job in the first time in 36 years. >> i am going to try and work, and not to lay down and die. >> redevelopment firm bought sparrows 0.4 $72 million, a 10th of what it sold for four years ago, but they're not say what they will do with the property.
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>> my forefathers would be rolling over in their great right now. how many times he told me that this place would be here forever. >> the end of an era for a plant, a community, and a family. sharyl attkisson, cbs news, maryland. >> that is the cbs evening news for tonight, scott pelly begins coverage of the democratic national convention tomorrow, for now, i am jim axelrod in new york, good night. >> good evening i am alan martin >> i am elizabeth cook in for dana king, the democratic national convention does not officially start until tomorrow. but the fireworks have already begun, courtesy of california's democratic party chair who used a not see comparison to go after the gop. grace lee is here with that
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story tonight. >> it all started when john burton, known for his off-the- cuff remarks, was talking about the vice-presidential candidate paul ryan saying that he lied in a speech last week, this part of an interview with douglas sovereign in charlotte n.c. today. >> they're willing to say that they live in a do not care, like joe's of burbles, the big lie, you keep repeating it, first of all you have republicans that truly believe that the earth is flat. they said that they do not care about facts, they will lie. so that is not a pejorative to them, they probably where it as a complement. >> he was referring to the nazi propagandist, he then went on to say that remarks at the repeated national convention were " a bold faced lie " .. late this afternoon he released a statement saying " i did not all republicans not seize, nor would

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